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Illinois men’s golf loses in NCAA quarterfinals


Another trip to match play in the NCAA men’s golf championships ended short of a national title for Illinois.

Coach Mike Small’s Illini — who earned the No. 1 seed by finishing 16 shots clear of the field after 72 holes of stroke play — lost 3-1 to eighth-seeded Georgia Tech in a quarterfinal match Tuesday morning in Carlsbad, Calif.

Max Herendeen, who tied for second Monday in the individual competition, was the only Illinois player to win his match, recording the day’s first point with a 5-and-4 rout of Carson Kim.

But the Yellow Jackets clinched the match with wins by Bartley Forrester over Tyler Goecke (3 and 1), Aidan Tran over Piercen Hunt (3 and 2) and NCAA individual champion Hiroshi Tai over Ryan Voois (3 and 2). That rendered Jackson Buchanan’s match against Georgia Tech’s Kale Fontenot moot.

“For whatever reason we lost our way and started guiding it and started worrying about things,” Small said in a press release. “I think a lot of our guys fell back on some of the tendencies that they were getting better at all spring, and I think under the pressure and tension they reverted back to some of that stuff.

“We were in control of the match halfway through and the back nine is one we took care of all week, so maybe the pressure got to them and maybe they got ahead of themselves and were thinking of the outcome for whatever reason.”

This was Illinois’ ninth time qualifying for match play since the current format was adopted in 2009, and the Illini have made the NCAA championships 17 times and won 13 Big Ten titles in Small’s 25 years in charge. But they still are seeking the program’s first national championship.

Georgia Tech moved on to a semifinal match later Tuesday against No. 5 seed Florida State, a 3-1 winner over fourth-seeded North Carolina.

No. 6 seed Auburn faced No. 7 Ohio State in the other semifinal as all four quarterfinals were won by the lower seed. The Tigers beat third-seeded Virginia 3-1, while the Buckeyes advanced with a 3-1-1 victory over second-seeded Vanderbilt.

The championship match is Wednesday at La Costa (6 p.m. CDT, Golf Channel).

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